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The spiritual home of tennis is once again taking centre stage with day one of the Kooyong Classic getting underway.

The event returns after three years of absence with one of its strongest fields yet.

Aussie Alex de Minaur kicked off proceedings against former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem on day one. De Minaur was challenged by Thiem at various points of the match with his serve and added pace in the warm conditions.

However, de Minaur was able to skip away as he won in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.

Speaking to media after his match de Minaur said he was thrilled to be playing at Kooyong given its rich history.

“It’s no secret how much history and culture this amazing club has,” he said.

“To just see the years of Davis Cup history and Australian Opens being played here it’s just a special feeling and it’s my first match on that court so it’s pretty special.”

His opening win at Kooyong comes after one of his career best victories against Rafael Nadal at the United Cup and the wheels seem to be in motion on the cusp of the Australian Open.

“I’m extremely excited, looking forward to it [Australian Open] and hopefully there’s a lot of energy and I can get the crowd involved and hopefully I can play my best tennis,” he said.

Meanwhile Gregor Dimitrov and Borna Coric also took to centre court with Dimitrov prevailing in straight sets, both of which were decided by tie-breaks 7-6(5), 7-6(5).

Day one Women’s singles action featured Linda Fruhvirtova and Donna Vekic.

Vekic was dominant for much of the afternoon with her powerful ground strokes on display leading to a comfortable win 6-4, 6-3.

After a troublesome last 12 months for the Croatian with injury forcing her to the sidelines for an extended period Vekic was glad to be back to full fitness.

“I had a short but really good and intense off-season, and it feels good to be able to actually run again after almost a year and a half since my surgery, so it feels good to be improving my fitness and it helps my game a lot,” she said.

The other Australian to feature at Kooyong was young gun Rinky Hijikata.

The 21-year-old played China’s highest ranked male singles player in Zhang Zhizhen with the home crowd getting behind the Aussie as he registered a straight sets victory 6-1, 7-6(4).

Speaking to The First Serve after his match, Hijikata said he was keen to build some positive momentum before he takes to the courts at the Australian Open next week.

“It was a lot of fun out there, its my first time playing at Kooyong and I absolutely loved it,” he said.

“I didn’t have the week I would have wanted in Adelaide so to come here and be able to get a few more matches in is priceless.”

Day two action at Kooyong begins at 11am on Wednesday with Sir Andy Murray, Frances Tiafoe and Aussie Kimberly Birrell set to take to the courts.


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